Your cooling system is not only important for the overall value of your house, but also for your family's comfort. While you may clean and update your system regularly, you may not place enough emphasis on protecting your outdoor cooling unit from theft. Found inside your unit's condenser, copper lines are responsible for efficient cooling, but these valuable lines are also appealing to thieves.
While surprising, over 25,000 metal theft claims were made between 2009 and 2012, and 96 percent of these claims were for copper theft. Since the value of copper continues to rise, protecting your cooling unit from theft is imperative. Using this guide, you will learn the best techniques to deter thieves from your outdoor unit.
Hire a Tech
Consulting professional HVAC contractors from a company like Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc. is a great option for protecting your outdoor unit from theft. Here are a few options to consider:
- Cages. Your HVAC professional may suggest installing a cage over your unit. Prefabricated cages are available to fit around units without decreasing the air circulation and ventilation. By unlocking the cage, you will have easy access to the unit. Unfortunately, some thieves may be able to pick these locks, so unit cages are not the most effective option for deterring theft.
- Power Disconnect Lock. A thief would need to cut power to your outdoor unit before removing it from your home. To prevent the thief from disconnecting power and removing the unit, your technician can install a lock on the power disconnect. Unless thieves want to be electrocuted, they cannot remove the unit.
- Alarms. Your HVAC contractor may also suggest alarms that will trigger when refrigerant lines are cut or removed. Sensors will trigger the siren, which will scare off the thieves while notifying you of the problem.
- Screws. Contractors can also replace the existing screws around the unit with tamper-resistant screws. These screws can be undone, but they require a great deal more time. This added time and stress may deter the criminal from stealing your outdoor unit.
- GPS Tracker. Using cages, locks, and alarms may not deter all criminals, but installing a GPS tracking device on a colling unit can help law enforcement track down your expensive cooling equipment. Of course, do not attempt to locate the unit on your own. Local law enforcement will handle the criminal investigation to ensure you and your family remain safe.
Homes that appear vacant are appealing to criminals, so it is easy to see how abandoned and foreclosed homes are common places for copper theft. If you don't properly maintain your home, it may also appear vacant even if you currently inhabit the space. Fortunately, you can make your home look occupied or lived-in using a few maintenance tips.
To get started, make sure the exterior of your home is clean and free of debris, like old newspapers and trash. In addition, mow the lawn, trim shrubs, and remove overgrown, dead landscaping.
Installing motion sensor lights around your home is also smart. Be sure the fixture directs light towards your HVAC unit on the side or back of your house. As a criminal approaches the unit, the light will come on and hopefully frighten them away from the home.
If you leave early in the morning for work and do not come home until after dark, consider setting exterior lights and a few interior lamps on a timer.
If you plan to travel, ask neighbors or family members to collect your mail, packages, and newspapers. For extended vacations, ask local law enforcement or community watch volunteers to check in on your home periodically.
Protecting your home from crime is essential, but protecting your outdoor units from theft is also necessary. Using these tips, you can make your units and home less appealing to thieves who are going crazy for copper.